It was the greatest honour of my life being elected as North West Durham’s first ever Conservative MP and the past few months have been a whirlwind. I grew up in a tiny village near Clitheroe and went to the local grammar school before getting a place at LSE, where I graduated from in 2007. I’ve worked in both the public and private sectors and worked at CCHQ and in various Government departments. I now live in Wolsingham and my office is based in Consett.
Locally, I’m campaigning for improvements to transport infrastructure, health services (including Shotley Bridge) and jobs and the local economy. I led the successful campaign for the reversal of the Motorhomes Tax, which was having an enormously detrimental effect on the constituency and employment up here. I’m also working on improving education across the constituency to make sure all our young people have the same opportunities as children across the rest of the UK. Nationally, I’m working on how to prevent gambling related harm, improvements to mental health services and improving animal welfare. I’m on the Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises Government spending, and am on the EU Statutory Instruments Committee, which studies regulations the Government implements during the transition period following our departure from the EU.
I want to do everything I can as your MP to help both individuals and businesses – any issues please drop me an email (email@example.com).
THE ECONOMY AND CORONAVIRUS
One of my six key pledges that I made to the people of North West Durham during the election campaign was that I would fight for our local economy and local jobs. I want all my constituents to have access to good, well-paid jobs. However, the current public health situation has been something of a hindrance to my work on this! Since coronavirus began, my office has received literally thousands of emails from individuals and businesses who have lost jobs, are seeking financial help (whether from the DWP or from major banks) or are concerned about the economy. I wanted to set out what help is available for people and what work is being done to protect the economy.
The Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) was put in place for smaller businesses to quickly access finance – SMEs can borrow between £2000 and 25% of their turnover (with the maximum amount available being £50,000). The Government guarantees 100% of the loan and after 12 months the interest rate is 2.5% a year. This has been a lifesaver for the small businesses in North West Durham and has enabled high street establishments like hairdressers and florists to stay afloat. This is as well as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CBILS) which gives loans of up to £5m, with the money coming from banks.
The Employee Job Retention Scheme has been established to allow people to be furloughed and receive wages of up to £2500 a month. My office has been contacting local employers to explain the scheme to them and ensure that individuals can access the scheme. The Government is also covering costs of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is now paid from day one, and self-employed people can also access up to £2500 a month, as well as not having to pay taxes until January 2021. For individuals who cannot access these schemes, Universal Credit has been made much more widely available.
There are also business grants – the money comes from central Government and is distributed by Durham County Council. Business rates have been scrapped for all hospitality businesses and businesses with a rating of less than £51,000. Hundreds of thousands of businesses nationally have benefitted from VAT deferrals.
I know that people across the UK are incredibly worried about their livelihoods and the economy. However, all of these schemes have been put in place to minimise job losses, prevent businesses from collapsing and ensure that people can get back on their feet and the economy moving as quickly as possible once we are able to. The situation is unprecedented and, once we realised just how serious it was going to be, all MPs and the Government threw themselves into finding solutions. I’ve been working closely with businesses across North West Durham and the Council to make sure that everyone has access to the financial help they need. I am very grateful to all the businesses in my constituency who have made a real effort to look after their employees at this difficult time. If any of you are having any issues or have any queries please drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do everything I can to help.